Our stay in Granada is an opportunity to wink at our personal history.
We were here, years ago, when early-on in our relationship, we seized every opportunity to travel together. We return to Granada thus with somewhat faded, but warm memories. During our 18 month Green Global Trek nomadic journey, we have made a point of returning to three places which have especially fond memories in our lives together.
We first returned, after many years, to Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. It was as extravagantly exotic as we remembered it to be. A few months later, we returned to Essaouira, Morocco, another place that captured our imagination and hearts. Just as it was before, years ago, Essaouira remains a painter’s paradise. And now we come back to Granada, this time, as Nomadic Empty Nesters. Just as in the two prior cases, this experience only serves to rekindle old charms.
Granada Spain still delivers its magic.
1) Gaze at the 360 degree visual treat that is our neighborhood ~ the Albaicin, a World Heritage site, directly across from the Alhambra castle. The Albaicin has a Medieval Moorish (Arabic) past and is one of the oldest centers of Muslim culture in Granada.
A full moon, a castle light up with a golden glow ~ A dramatic sight from our rooftop patio.
The house we are staying in for two weeks, situated directly across from a neighborhood church. The windows you see are the second floor of the home.
Outside “our” home, located on Calles Beso, which means street of the kiss. There is a legend written on one of the walls, about a beautiful girl who was resuscitated from illness and death with a kiss from her mother.
We have a wood burning fireplace, a well equipped little kitchen, and wifi, in our charming home exchange house in the Albaicin.
The evenings are quite chilly as winter is not quite over yet. Every night we build a fire and make a meal using products from the local farmers market. Nice and cosy!
During the day, the view towards the famed Alhambra Castle changes with the light and time of day. Always captivating! We start and end the days here on the patio, with this view. Perfect place to greet the sun, catch some rays and do yoga.
Blue skies, worn Spanish tiles, Cyprus trees and whitewashed walls make up the view.
A dramatic sunset brightens the sky.
Cafe Gatos ~ a five minute walk from where we are staying becomes our “go to” place for breakfast each day. Chairs in the morning sun, newspapers nearby and good cappucino and fresh orange juice. The favored breakfast by Granadinos: white toasted baguette with tomate pulp and olive oil. Lots of olive oil!
On Sunday our breakfast has the added value of live music! In the background there is a view of the top of the castle, as with many streets from the Albaicin neighborhood.
Spring IS on the way. This flowering yellow tree down the cobblestoned lane from our house, gives a burst of bright yellow to the street.
A favorite plaza has a panoramic view of the snow capped Sierra mountains in front of which Granada nestles.
The Albaicin neighborhood has quite a few large properties with mature gardens which spill over the walls and into the narrow cobblestone lanes.
2) Stroll the streets and get lost! Nothing could be better.
Winding and irregular streets of a Medieval town make for great exploring and visual treats and surprises along any walk in any direction.
There are few cars in this area, as many streets are too narrow for them to fit through, have steps and are for pedestrians only.
The almond trees are in blossom. Soft and light pink against bright whitewashed stone houses.
As we stroll the streets, Ben is fielding calls relating to his current consultancy work re Sri Lanka.
A vista over the modern city of Granada, which lies in the valley between the hill which is the Albaicin neighborhood where we are staying, and the hill which is the home to the Alhambra castle.
Enjoying the sunshine and strolling along the river which is just below our neighborhood.
We find a path to get down to the river which runs below the town. It is graced by arched Medieval bridges which are several hundred years old.
The front of a building which has original painted murals on its exterior. The colors of the paintings are muted by the sun and weather, adding to the character and charm of the building.
One of many plazas in Granada.
Walking down from the Alhambra Castle, one of the remaining original gates from the Moorish fortress walls.
3) Hiking and exploring the mountainous terrain ~ adding a unique perspective.
Perimeter walls below the Alhambra castle are part of the “green belt” below the castle. Forest, greenery and old castle walls make for great scenery.
Hiking up the hill we get a good view across the valley.
The Alhambra Castle viewed from up close as we walk around the perimeter of the fortress walls.
4) Exploring the culinary landscape
It all starts with the ingredients of course! The farmers’ market in a small plaza, five days a week, has excellent fresh and inexpensive produce!
A huge box of chartreuse mushrooms. We have been loving all the large fresh mushrooms that are abundant this time of the year in Spain.
Bunches of big fat crisp radishes.
The oranges in Spain are excellent. Very juicy and very sweet. Most cafes and restaurants make fresh orange juice!
Gorgeous perfect golden pears. They taste as good as they look! We eat mounds of these…..!
Picnic dinner in front of the fire: Grilled red peppers, courgette and fennel with walnuts and fresh goat cheese.
Granada is renowned for the tradition of serving free tapas when you order a beer or other drink ~ you don’t know what you will get, as it is up to the kitchen’s fancy as to what the tapas of the day might be.
One of our favorite dishes is “berenjena al miel” ~ fried eggplant strips or pieces, drizzled with cane honey.
A small plaza we come across which becomea one of our favorites for tapas and beer, or for lunch. Locals flocked here for a drink and tapas in the sun.
Small snails ~ a seasonal specialty. We always like to try the local offering, exotic or not. These were not our favorite, but certainly worth tasting at least once.
“Salmoreja” ~ The winter and thicker version of Gazpacho. (Sometimes topped with a drizzle of olive oil and Spanish ham.)
Cod fish, a Spanish specialty… Here encrusted with pistachio nuts served with a drizzle of creme fraiche and fig jam.
5) Taking in the music that springs up at many street corners
Guitar, flamenco, these are the foundations of Spanish music. The beauty of Granada is one doesn’t need to go to a formal performance, the music is everywhere on the streets and it’s kick ass quality too!
What a magical combination ~ The view from St. Nicholas Plaza of the castle and mountains behind while listening to Spanish guitar.
Spanish time: Lunch and tapas are from 2-4. Dinner starts around 10 pm. Spanish guitar and singing accompanies most meals.
A strange round instrument that looks a bit like a very large lid. Creates some very beautiful ethereal sounds.
There is quite a vibrant young alternative community in Granada. Plenty of music of all sorts as well as juggling, hooping all happening at the plaza along with the sunset.
Our fling with Granada lasts two weeks and wraps up two months of living in Spain.
We have loved talking Spanish again. Our Nicaraguan Spanish requires some adjustments as it has differences in vocabulary and accent to the Spanish in Spain. Ben has his favorite Spanish newspapers and we both have our favorite Spanish foods….(Ben’s vote = Jamon Serrano/ Dry cured ham. Peta’s vote = Salmoreja/ Winter version of Gazpacho.)
Our experience is that Spanish people we have met and or befriended while we live in Spain, are very much a friendly bunch. Oh and of course, Spanish girls are among the most attractive in the world!
From Toledo to Seville, to Cadiz and Puerto Santa Maria to Mojacar and finally to Granada.
We could easily live here, but it is time to move on. We are nomads, after all!